First the easy one: the DOJ report on Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown. The press seems more interested in the other DOJ report, the one that reams the whole criminal justice system in Ferguson a new one (more on that, later). But what about Darren Wilson and Michael Brown: the shooting that started it all.
This DOJ report really is a complete vindicate of Police Officer Wilson. 100 percent. And you can't really say that this is some racist white-wash from Eric Holder’s rah-rah pro-police Department of Justice.
Now you may say the protests were about so much more. OK. You may say that Ferguson Police overreacted with too much force against protests. Sure. I agree. None of that means Ferguson isn’t a fucked-up place, racially and institutionally. And maybe it's good that now we know about the business of racial injustice in Ferguson (that's the other report).
But let's not change the subject. Darren Wilson was legally and morally justified in shooting Michael Brown. The whole "shot while surrendering" part? It simply did not happen. To say otherwise approaches the wacky level of Creationists, climate-change deniers, and the anti-vaccine camp.
After I read the grand jury testimony, I was convinced: Darren Wilson's version rings true. The DOJ agrees. If you don't believe me, read the whole report. But the bottom line is this:
The evidence, when viewed as a whole, does not support the conclusion that Wilson's uses of deadly force were 'objectively unreasonable' under the Supreme Court's definition. Accordingly... it is not appropriate to present this matter to a federal grand jury for indictment, and it should therefore be closed without prosecution.The end. Now that might not sound like huge statement in support of Officer Wilson. But the devil is in the details. The purpose of this report was not to exonerate Darren Wilson but to see if there was any reason to charge him federally. There isn't. But the details of the DOJ's report, based on all the evidence, presents a pretty unambiguous picture. These are now the facts:
Brown stole several packages of cigarillos. ... An FPD dispatch call went out over the police radio for a "stealing in progress." Wilson was aware of the theft and had a description of the suspects as he encountered Brown.As to witnesses who said things that contract these facts:
Wilson ... told the two men to walk on the sidewalk.... Wilson then called for backup, stating, "Put me on Canfield with two and send me another car." Wilson backed up his SUV.... stopping Brown and [Dorian Johnson] from walking any further. Wilson attempted to open the driver's door of the SUV to exit his vehicle, but as he swung it open, the door came into contact with Brown's body and either rebounded closed or Brown pushed it closed.
Wilson and other witnesses stated that Brown then reached into the SUV through the open driver's window and punched and grabbed Wilson. This is corroborated by bruising on Wilson's jaw and scratches on his neck, the presence of Brown’s DNA on Wilson's collar, shirt, and pants, and Wilson's DNA on Brown’s palm.
Brown then grabbed the weapon and struggled with Wilson to gain control of it. Wilson fired, striking Brown in the hand.... Brown used his right hand to grab and attempt to control Wilson's gun.... Brown's hand was within inches of the muzzle of Wilson's gun when it was fired. The location of the recovered bullet in the side panel of the driver's door... also corroborates Wilson's account.
There is no credible evidence to disprove Wilson's account of what occurred inside the SUV.
The autopsy results confirm that Wilson did not shoot Brown in the back as he was running away.
Brown ran at least 180 feet away from the SUV.... Brown then turned around and came back toward Wilson, falling to his death approximately 21.6 feet west of the blood in the roadway.
Several witnesses stated that Brown appeared to pose a physical threat to Wilson as he moved toward Wilson.... Wilson fired at Brown in what appeared to be self-defense and stopped firing once Brown fell to the ground.
While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson ... they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him.
As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media.That's it. So you can keep whatever world view you want. [I am the only person on the Venn Diagram who was convinced that George Zimmerman was guilty and Darren Wilson was innocent?] If you thought Michael Brown was executed in cold blood by a racist cop, you were misinformed about the facts. Now you should change your opinion.
[In an otherwise informative piece, Ta-Nahasi Coates admits Wilson's innocence as charged but says, "Darren Wilson is not the first gang member to be publicly accused of a crime he did not commit." Oh, snap. But Wilson may be the first innocent person in the 21st century to inspire mass public protests assured of his guilt.]
What about Police Officer Darren Wilson? The mob of public opinion declares him guilty. As far as I know he's still in hiding. He's innocent. Is he really an agent of a criminal operation? Or does he get his life and job back?